by Beecher Threatt
After a tense, acrimonious public hearing on Tuesday, the Board of County Commissioners approved a special use permit for operation of a home business cabinet shop in the Valley Zone. Chad and Ashley Baillie will now apply for a building permit to construct a shop on their residential property on U.S. Highway 550, just south of County Road 23.
Commissioners made clear the SUP is for use of the property only, not for the building. Home businesses (as opposed to home occupations, a different category) are not a use by right in the Valley Zone. According to land use department staff, the use meets all requirements of the land use code, and staff and the Ouray Area Joint Planning Board recommended approval of the SUP, with conditions. The planning board consists of the five Ouray County Planning Commission members and three City of Ouray appointees.
Neighbors on either side of the Baillies, Bill and Michelle Common, Susan Wells and Carl Brown, voiced opposition to the permit at the public hearing. They also objected to the application at the planning board hearing and at previous BOCC hearings. Michelle Common has alleged the land use staff was biased against them and treated Baillie better than they treat other applicants.
Ashley Baillie, who had not made a presentation at any hearing, on Tuesday read a lengthy prepared statement to the BOCC, recounting incidents of harassment, in her view, from the neighbors since the application was filed. Incidents included calling federal, state and county officials with unjustified complaints of activity on the Baillies' property and name-calling, according to Baillie. She alleged the county is allowing the neighbors to harass them. "I can see why so many citizens are conducting business without permits," she told commissioners.
County commissioners agreed this SUP revealed shortcomings in the land use code which need to be addressed. "We need to work on the code," Chair Mike Fedel said. Commissioners, as well as the joint planning board, sympathized with the neighbors but said the application met all requirements of the code.
In approving the permit, the BOCC adopted 16 conditions recommended by staff and by the planning board, and added three more. Some of the conditions are:
-- comply with the state statute regulating noise levels. The county land use code has general noise restrictions but does not specify maximum allowable levels, so the condition refers to state law. Baillie said his shop would have noise mitigation features and decibel level tests at his current shop in Placerville showed he would be in compliance.
-- comply with any requirement by the building inspector to provide a flood plain certificate with the building permit application.
-- do not create a hazard or nuisance with vehicle traffic. Baillie said he gets one delivery of raw materials per week and a trash pickup. The operation is not retail, as cabinets are being manufactured for placement in mainly Telluride area homes.
-- apply for and receive a new highway access permit from Colorado Department of Transportation. Baillie will apply for the permit now that the SUP has been approved.
-- use area, both inside the building and outside storage, shall not exceed 4,443 square feet, and outdoor storage will be screened from view.
-- meet visual impact regulations in section 9 of the land use code.
-- apply for renewal of the SUP every two years.
-- construct the building to meet applicable codes. Baillie and Associate County Planner Bryan Sampson agreed the building would have to meet the commercial code.
-- no offensive vibration, smoke, dust, odors, etc., beyond the property line, per the land use code. Baillie said sawdust would be captured in a closed system. Also, these issues would be addressed by complying with the commercial building code.
-- no retail sales onsite.
-- limit commercial activity to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
-- no more than seven vehicle trips per day (one trip is into and out of the property). The BOCC adopted this condition in lieu of limiting the number of employees. The land use code specifies no more than five employees in a home business. Baillie said he would usually have one employee and rarely would have two.
"We have rights we intend to enforce," said Michelle Common, questioning how the SUP conditions would be enforced, whom neighbors should call when they saw a violation and whether the county is prepared for enforcement. Sampson said either the land use department or the sheriff's office should be called, but he cautioned that his department does not have adequate decibel level testing equipment.
“This is not a friendly neighborhood,” Common said. "More people will want to do this." Addressing the board, she said, "Lynn (Padgett) and Mike (Fedel), this will be your legacy. It has been a horrendous, horrific time for our family since April."
Fedel assured Common that the BOCC would help with enforcement criteria. "The enforcement burden has the potential to be huge," Fedel said.
Wells asked why Baillie was setting up an operation in Ouray County, when she thought most of his customers are outside the county. She also told the board she knew Baillie recently purchased property in the Ridgway industrial park and wondered why he was not operating there.
The neighbors have objected at every opportunity since the permit application was filed in March. At the planning board's public hearing in April, the Commons objected to operation of a cabinet shop on the property, citing noise, enforcement, fire mitigation, toxic fumes, river pollution and other issues. Wells told the board that she and Brown bought into a pristine area, and she voiced concerns about blocking the view of Mt. Abram and the effect on wildlife.
Padgett said county residents are taken by surprise when a large building goes up, such as a home and shop being built near the KOA camp. The county does not regulate building size with regard to lot size, and buildings can go right up to the setback, she said. "We can’t change rules retroactively. We have to judge this SUP by the code in place," she said.
“We need to work on the code,” Fedel said.
Ridgway Mayor John Clark addressed the board during public comment. "I'd like the county to look at amending home business regulations, because obviously it is a pain and hardship among neighbors who were previously friendly," he said. "Consider scaling back the size of businesses allowed and encourage them to go into Ridgway or Ouray...I thought it (land use code) was more limited than this."